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ASUU’s Present Strike Is Not About IPPIS

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I read the comments of Darty Emmanuel, the self-styled lecturer of University of Uyo and I have decided to respond to him because he is not only in the minority but also deliberately misleading the public. And this needs to be corrected.

Over the years, as an academic, I have discovered that there are some lecturers who have issues with ASUU but cannot summon courage to resign from the Union and also reject the benefits that come from the struggles of the Union. Some of his likes have benefited from TETFUND sponsorships in M.Sc./Ph.D programmes.

For his and other people’s information, TETFUND is a product of ASUU struggle. Today, we know what TETFUND and Revitalization fund have done in our universities,
Darty Emmanuel claims IPPIS is intended to check the excesses of Nigerian lecturers who work in 2 to 4 universities. I ask him, is that peculiar to Nigerian universities?

All over the world, even in the most developed climes, there are provisions in the universities for visiting lecturers, adjunct lecturers, sabbatical lecturers and even part time lecturers. When has working in more than one university become a crime in the university system?

Quite unfortunate, this is coming from a supposed academic. Why would a government try to solve a “perceived problem” through an illegal means? As far as ASUU is concerned, there are laws establishing all Federal universities and these laws are clear as to who is to handle finance and administration of universities.

Why would a mere directive of the President supercede the law of the land? Is he a king that must be obeyed without recourse to the laws of the land? Is that what Darty Emmanuel is suggesting in a supposed democracy?

Besides, the University Miscellaneous Act (2003) as amended stipulates that no circular from the civil service will be applicable to the university system. Why will a government ignore a law that has not been repealed? It shows this government does not respect our laws.

In civilized climes, this government would have been impeached. Let us make our points based on facts and not emotions.
Darty Emmanuel also asked whether “ASUU have any active supervision over how such monies are to be expended by Governing councils of universities or Vice Chancellors, bursars and other big men in the university management?” I want to refer him to the FG/ASUU 2009 Agreement, which states that a budget monitoring committee should be set up in every university, which composition includes a Council member as Chairperson and representatives from all unions in the university.

The responsibility of the committee is to monitor and supervise the spending of the Revitalization fund allocated to that university. The ignorance of the existence of this committee in his university shows that Darty Emmanuel is not abreast with the happenings in the university, even though he works in only one university, as he claimed.

Darty Emmanuel went further to state that ASUU should “put away this hypocritical toga of altruism”. I make bold to say that ASUU is a patriotic and selfless union and the only union that has not been “conquered” by the successive Nigerian governments and their neo-colonialist collaborators.

The refusal of NUT to fight for the improvement of the funding and development of the public primary and secondary education has brought us to where we are today. NUT was only fighting for their welfare, with due respect to them.

Today, public primary and secondary education is near non-existence. ASUU is a union of difference. ASUU fights for the downtrodden and the powerless. ASUU also fights for the working conditions and environment they have found themselves.

No academic worth his/her salt that will not identify with the struggles of ASUU. The reason we still have a semblance of university in Nigeria is because of the intervention of ASUU.

I expect Darty Emmanuel to appreciate the efforts of ASUU, being that as he acknowledged, ASUU is fighting not just for her members, but for students, parents and the society as a whole. He should not vilify the Union for doing a good job. I think that is mistake by him.

As a union of intellectuals, ASUU knows better, even if those that are affected fail to realize and fight for themselves. ASUU is leading the way for the students and parents to join. ASUU is not hypocritical. ASUU is selfless. ASUU is a trade union with a difference. Everybody’s problem is ASUU’s problem and ASUU will not die but will live because united we stand, divided we beg.

Once more, I need to clarify that the present strike by ASUU is not because of IPPIS. IPPIS is just diversionary. The issues of dispute are FG/ASUU 2009 Agreement, 2013 MOU and 2019 MOA. Government is just diverting attention to IPPIS, claiming they are fighting corruption. Government took a loan of $140 million to implement the IPPIS. ASUU has produced UTAS, at no cost to government, which will take care of the peculiarities of universities. Government that had accepted it in principle earlier this year is now foot dragging.

All pressures should be directed by the youths, parents and CSOs to the Federal Government to test the UTAS that has been found to be superior to the so called IPPIS and then commence discussions on the main issues at stake. Keep quiet if you don’t know the issues rather than vomit your ignorance in public.

Tonbara Kingdom writes from NDU, Wilberforce Island, Bayelsa State

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